September 29, 2023 — Experts, researchers, and various stakeholders gathered yesterday for the Utah Cloud Seeding Symposium at Snowbird Resort. ParkRecord.com reports that Joel Ferry, the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, emphasized the role of weather modification in countering the water resource predicaments faced by the state.
The Process: How Cloud Seeding Works.
Utah has been cloud seeding since the early 1950s to help augment the state’s water supply. It has since been regulated by the Utah Division of Water Resources following the enactment of The Cloud Seeding Act of 1973. It involves the use of ground-based seeders to release silver iodide into winter clouds, aiding the formation of ice crystals. Strategically located along higher terrains and foothills, these seeders ensure the optimal release of cloud seeds to be carried into the clouds by air currents.
This technique is efficient due to the composition of clouds, which consist of water vapor and dust. Under favorable conditions, water droplets amalgamate around the dust particles and descend as snow when they attain sufficient weight. The addition of more particles, or ‘seeds’, enhances and hastens this natural process, potentially resulting in increased snowfall. Given that snowpack serves as Utah’s predominant water source, this increase is beneficial for the state’s water supply. The effectiveness of this process is contingent on specific conditions, and its viability is amplified by Utah’s topography, climate, and reservoirs, making winter snowpack augmentation economically feasible. A statistical study has revealed an average rise in precipitation of 5-15% in the regions where seeding was carried out.
Future Efforts: Expansion Plans and Budget Allocations.
Cloud seeding in Utah mostly occurs during winter, owing to the required atmospheric water content. The state’s semi-arid climate and lack of support for a summer seeding program limit cloud seeding during the summer months. To support ongoing cloud seeding initiatives, the 2023 Utah Legislature has allocated $12 million in one-time funding, alongside an annual budget of $5 million to the division, with the costs being shared with local sponsors.